The city of Ketchum is preparing to get construction workers and landscapers back to work on Monday, pending approval from the City Council during a special meeting Friday.
The city emailed contractors, landscapers and mechanical, plumbing and electrical service providers on Tuesday afternoon with a link to the city’s website page that detailing procedures for resuming work in Ketchum, according to a copy of the letter shared with the Mountain Express.
Standards for jobsites include having hand sanitizer or handwashing stations on the site or in the vehicle for landscapers working at different sites daily. Workers will be required to clean their hands upon arrival and departure from the job and to clean their hands often throughout the day. All workers must be provided with personal protective equipment including gloves and goggles, face shields or other face coverings, and wear it at all times while on the jobsite.
The standards also require workers to remain 6 feet apart from one another and to refrain from sharing tools or equipment. Large equipment such as table saws shall be wiped down after each use. (For the full list of standards, visit ketchumidaho.org and click on the orange COVID-19 bar at the top.)
The prospective rules also include an employee certification form that must be read and signed by every person working at the jobsite, along with an affidavit signed by the contractor or business owner of each jobsite or business that health-safety standards are being met. In addition, contractors or owners will have to submit a COVID-19 Illness Notification form to the city within 48 hours if an employee has been exposed to the virus and is sent home.
The city’s letter came an hour and a half after it issued joint press release with valley jurisdictions showcasing a chart created by the South Central Public Health District that detailed declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Blaine County.
Logan Hudson, Public Health Division administrator for the Health District, said the epidemiological curve shows the distribution of the disease through the community. The graph lists cases by the date of the onset of symptoms, since that’s typically when people are still infectious.
Bradshaw noted that the new graph is a reason to lessen the city’s restrictions.
“Transparency for our residents is key—this is what we’re basing our decisions on. We’re seeing more manageable numbers of people,” Bradshaw said in an interview with the Mountain Express on Thursday. “But, at the same time, I don’t want people going out into the streets thinking this is over.”
Hudson echoed that last sentiment.
Now that the initial hit has been taken, Hudson said that community members need to know that there are still people out here who are sick, although those numbers might not be reflected in the graph just yet.
“The interventions that have been taken have worked, although the virus is still present in the community,” he said.
The data shared by the city, which Hudson pulled on April 12, ends on April 4. It only includes people who had tested positive by April 12; April 4 was the latest confirmed onset from that sample. Illnesses that began afterward may not have been surveyed yet, Hudson said, and they’ll change the curve.
Now that testing turnaround time has become faster, epidemiological investigations are getting more details sooners. Initially, epidemiologists weren’t able to see the full picture of infection. Part of the difficulty in creating this epidemiological curve is how slow the data collection was at the beginning, with test results taking upwards of two weeks in some cases, and people reporting onset of symptoms anywhere from five to 14 days after being exposed to the virus.
Hudson said epidemiologists now have a better sense of where the disease has spread, and how mitigation measures are working. But he warned that as restrictions get rolled back, senior populations and those with underlying health conditions need to still be protected.
“Until a vaccine or treatment is created, the virus will continue to be present,” he said.
Still, this week’s curve indicates that the worst is behind us, according to Bradshaw.
“I think it’s really compelling—it shows a story,” Bradshaw said of the graph. “It shows how bad things were in mid-March, and how far we’ve come.”